The production partnership for Saudi multihyphenate Ahd Kamel’s long-awaited feature film debut, “My Driver and I,” was announced at this week’s Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah, where the film is also set. MAD Solutions, a well-known distributor of Arab films, has entered into a production partnership with broadcaster OSN in Dubai, Red Sea Fund, and U.K. Global Screen Fund.
Saba Mubarak, a Jordanian actress, will appear in the movie alongside Qusai Keder, Mostafa Shahata, and Baraa Alem, three actors from the region.
The feature that has been made for pay-TV and streaming networks goes by the name OSN Original. The movie will be shown to the MENA audience by the network because of this. Outside of those Arab-speaking regions, MAD Solutions owns all rights to international distribution.
Kamel was born in Saudi Arabia, and she moved to New York in 1997. She attended the New York Film Academy and Parsons School of Design in 2005.
She made her directorial debut with a 2013 short. “Sanctity,” MAD distributed the same. She played an important role in the 2014 film “Wadjda,” which was the first full-length film to be shot in Saudi Arabia and was directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first Saudi woman to direct a full-length feature film. In the 2018 BBC/Netflix series “Collateral,” written by David Hare, Carey Mulligan and Kamel also starred.
The story of Salma, an innocent Saudi girl from a wealthy family, is told in “My Driver and I.” Gamar, a young Sudanese man, forms a close friendship with his friends. Based on Kamel’s memories of Jeddah in the 1980s and 1990s, the movie. She had previously been interviewed by Variety: “I’m making this film because I grew up with a driver, who practically raised me, took me back and forth to school every single day, and when my parents passed away when I was a teenager, he was the only person who could rein me in. He really taught me a lot of the lessons I learned in life, but I only came to realize this about 10 years ago, after he passed away.”
MAD Solutions cofounders Alaa Karkouti and MaherDiab made the following statement: “Having watched Ahd develop her labor of love over the years, it gives us so much joy to be part of the production alliance that will finally allow her exquisite story to come to life. Her wonderful story opens a window on life in Saudi Arabia during her formative years, a Saudi world that is now undergoing such rapid transformation.”
OSN is led by group CEO Joe Kawkabani. “It’s time the region’s untold stories deserve a wider audience, and ‘My Driver and I’ is the embodiment of stories that deserve an expansive medium.”
In more than 22 MENA countries, OSN is a streaming service that provides high-quality TV. The feature film was among the new series and original films that OSN announced. The show “Yellow Bus” is based in Kuwait and is called “Fashionista.”